An I-140 immigrant visa petition is an employment-based visa for permanent sponsorship. An approved I-140 leads to a green card and permanent residence for the employee.

There are 3 categories of I-140 immigrant visas, EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3. There are also subsets within each of these categories. Depending on which category you qualify for, it can make a significant difference in how quickly you will be eligible to file for a green card or I-485 adjustment of status application. The filing of an I-140 is normally what gives an employee a priority date, except in the case where a PERM labor certification is required. In this case, the priority date is the date on which the PERM is filed with the Department of Labor. This priority date is important because this date, along with the category in which you are applying and your nationality, determines when you are eligible to file for the green card.

There is an annual limit on the number of immigrant visas that can be issued in each employment-based visa category. The Visa Bulletin is used to monitor usage of immigrant visas and is issued by the Department of State each month. The Visa Bulletin lists dates for each employment-based category and country-specific category. These dates are then matched to the applicant’s priority dates to determine when they can file for the adjustment of status or complete their consular processing in order to get a green card.

To determine which employment based category you fall under, many factors must be taken into account, including your degree, your work experience, the job you are being offered, etc. Therefore, only an experienced immigration attorney can present your best available options after evaluating the totality of your circumstances. Here are summaries for each  employment-based categories:

The EB-1 Visa

EB-1s are the highest level employment-based visas and are reserved for Multi-National Executives or Managers, Outstanding Professors or Researchers, or People with Extraordinary Ability. The advantage of applying under the EB-1 category is that regardless of your nationality, you are eligible to file for a green card concurrently with the I-140 application. There is no labor certification requirement and there is no wait time to file.

The EB-2 Visa

EB-2s are for foreign nationals with advanced degrees, or who have exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business. Most of the EB-2 categories require a labor certification prior to the I-140 application. There is one exception to the labor certification for this category – if the foreign national qualifies for a National Interest Waiver (NIW).

The EB-3 Visa

EB-3s are for professional, and skilled and unskilled workers. This category requires that all foreign nationals obtain a PERM labor certification prior to filing for an I-140 immigrant visa. The wait-time is the longest for this particular category.

If you wish to obtain an I-140 immigrant visa for yourself or an employee, it is important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney. Call us today if you have any questions about your eligibility and the process, or if you are ready to start your petition.


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